Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Vincent Van Gogh painted for just 10 years, but produced over 2000 works of art in periods of intense productivity and creativity. However, during these creative periods, his personal life was one of chaos with poor and impulsive decisions relating to finance, career, business, substance abuse, sexuality and romance (sending his severed ear to the object of his affection), and between these periods he was institutionalized with crushing depressions and he eventually took his own life. It is likely that he suffered from what we now know as bipolar disorder. Insight into mood is not easily conveyed, but we can get a sense of Van Gogh's mood extremes from two of his paintings, both with the theme of a starry night, but one suggesting exuberant mania and one gloomy depression. Surprisingly, the best treatment for bipolar disorder still remains the one first discovered over 60 years ago: the cation lithium. Nevertheless, lithium's side effects and toxicity have spurred the search for a replacement. © 2013 Biochemical Society.


Journal article



Publication Date





16 - 19